Instructor: Sam Rickless

Office: H&SS 8009

Office Telephone: (858) 822-4910

Office Hours: Wednesdays 1pm-2pm in HSS 8009; Tuesdays and Thursdays 1pm-2pm in Solis 105 Computer Lab


Lecture Hall: WLH 2205

Lecture Time: T, Th 11:00am-12:20pm


Course Description


This course is devoted to careful examination and evaluation of the main philosophical positions advocated and defended by Socrates and Plato, as they appear in Plato’s dialogues.  Topics to be covered include: Socrates’ theory of definition; Socrates’ acceptance, and Plato’s denial, of (i) hedonism [the thesis that the good is pleasure], (ii) the impossibility of weakness-of-will, and (iii) moral intellectualism [the thesis that virtue is a kind of knowledge]; Socrates’ and Plato’s (rather different) defenses of the claim that virtue (justice in particular) is sufficient for happiness; the paradox of inquiry, the doctrine of recollection, and Plato’s arguments for the immortality of the soul; and Plato’s theory of forms, his theory of knowledge, and (if there is time) the emendations to those theories forced upon him by considerations raised in the Parmenides and Theaetetus.  Prerequisites: Upper-division status; at least one philosophy course recommended.



Course Website:


Alternatively, find the website by surfing to the UCSD Philosophy Department Webpage, clicking on Courses, and then on Phil 100 (Plato).  The syllabus, handouts, and links to websites are all available on the course website.



Course Text


Cooper, John M., ed. 1997. Plato: Complete Works. Hackett Publishing Company.


This book is available for purchase in the UCSD campus bookstore, and has been placed on course reserve in Geisel Library.





Handouts will NOT be handed out during lecture.  Before a lecture that requires the use of handouts (see Course Schedule below), you must access the Course Webpage, print a copy of the relevant handout(s), and bring the handout(s) to lecture.  For example, you need to bring the two Apology handouts to lecture on September 27.



Course Schedule


September 22: Introduction to the study of Plato


September 27: Socratic method described

Reading: Apology

Handout: Apology (Structure)

Handout: Apology (Examination of Meletus)


September 29 : Socratic method in action

Reading: Euthyphro (especially 5c-8b and 9e-11b), Charmides 159a-161b

Handout: Euthyphro

Handout: Charmides


October 4: Socrates’ theory of definition

Reading: Same as September 29

Meno (up to 80d)

Handout: Socrates’ Theory of Definition


October 6: Socrates’ moral intellectualism I

Reading: Protagoras (up to 333b, especially 317e-333b; 349a-351a)

Handout: Protagoras 317-351


October 11: Socrates’ moral intellectualism II

Reading: Protagoras (351c-360e)

Handout: Protagoras 351c-360e


October 13: Socrates’ moral intellectualism III

Reading: Euthydemus 278e-282, Charmides 174a-d, Republic I (especially 334e-335e, 348b-350d, and 352d-354a)


October 18: Problems for moral intellectualism I

Reading: Protagoras 317e-320b and 360e-end, Meno 86c-96c, Laches (especially 189e-199e)

Handout: Laches



October 20: Problems for moral intellectualism II

Reading: Gorgias 481b-499b

Handout: Gorgias 494-499


October 25: The Paradox of Inquiry and the Doctrine of Recollection

Reading: Meno 80d-85d


October 27: The road to separate forms

Reading: Greater Hippias 287b-289d, Cratylus 439c-440d




November 3: Separate forms and immortality

Reading: Meno 85d-86b, Phaedo 70b-107a, Symposium 211a-b

Handout: Phaedo 70b-107a


November 8: Plato’s theory of the cardinal virtues

Reading: Republic II-IV (especially 357a-376c, 412b-415d, 427d-445b)


November 10: Plato’s theory of forms

Reading: Republic V-VII (especially 471c-487a, 502c-521b, 532d-535a), Republic X (just 596a-597d)

Handout: Republic 476e-480a


November 15: Plato’s defense of justice

Reading: Republic VIII-IX (especially Book IX)

Handout: Republic 583b-587b


November 17: Problems for Plato’s theory of forms

Reading: Parmenides (up to 134e)


November 22: Plato’s answer

Reading: Parmenides 135a-137c and as much as you can manage after 137c, Sophist 248a-257a

            SECOND PAPER DUE      


November 29 : Plato’s theory of knowledge

Reading: Meno 96d-100b, Republic 475e-485a, 506c-511e, 529b, 532d-535a, and Theaetetus 200d-210b


December 1: Review of main themes


Tuesday, December 6: FINAL EXAMINATION (11:30am-2:30pm)



Course Requirements


First Paper (2-3 pages) 10% due October 18

Mid-Term Examination 25% November1

Second Paper (<2000 words) 25% due November 22

Final Examination 40% December 6


Make-up examinations and paper extensions will only be given to those who present evidence indicative of a valid excuse in a timely manner.  [Note that computer or printer failure does not usually constitute a valid excuse, so be sure to take all necessary precautions to safeguard your coursework.]  If at any time you believe you have a legitimate claim to an extension or make-up, bring it to my attention as soon as possible (e.g., if you are going to be out of town for a legitimate purpose, such as a university sponsored concert performance, athletic event, conference, or the equivalent).  Unexcused late papers and unexcused missed examinations will receive a grade of F.



Additional Notes


If accommodations are needed for a disability or for religious reasons, please discuss the matter with me as soon as possible.

The academic honor code must be observed in this course.

The policies stated above are subject to change.